Obono-Obla wants N9bn Bakassi Resettlement Fund Probed


Bassey Inyang in Calabar

The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, has alleged that over N9 billion was released by federal government to successive administrations in Cross River State for the resettlement of the displaced people of Bakassi peninsula after the territory was ceded to Cameroun following the October 10, 2002 judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Obono-Obla, who stated this against the backdrop of insinuation from many quarters that the federal government has neglected the displaced people, therefore, called for probe of how the money was applied by the state government.
Obono-Obla was reacting to an invitation by former special adviser to the president on National Assembly Matters, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, that he should join in the campaign for the resettlement of the displaced people of Bakassi.

Ita-Giwa had extended her invitation to Obono-Obla following the remarks he made in an earlier statement tagged: ‘The Hypocrisy of Senator Florence Ita Giwa on Bakassi,’ on her alleged roles in various processes put in place by the past regimes in the country and state towards the resettlement the Bakassi people.

Obono-Obla said he would not honour Ita-Giwa’s invitation said from the outset he has been a serious advocate of the Bakassi people.
In a press statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, Obono-Obla said funds were sent to the state during the administrations of former Governor Donald Duke, and Governor Liyel Imoke, for resettlement purposes, hence what the funds were used for should be investigated.

The statement entitled: ‘Why I will Not Join Senator Ita Giwa’s Advocacy Campaign on Bakassi,’ read in part: “I want to state categorically clear that I will not mar my integrity by supporting the inglorious self-seeking advocacy of Ita-Giwa on Bakassi on the following grounds: I perceive Ita-Giwa’s campaign on Bakassi to be insincere, deceitful, opaque, and steeped in self-glorification.”

The president’s aide stated that even Ita-Giwa, who served as one time Chairman of Bakassi Re-Settlement Committee, once requested the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate funds allegedly released for the Bakassi resettlement purpose.

Obono-Obla recalled how he had been involved in the struggle for the cause of the Bakassi people, stating that aside from his numerous pro-Bakassi agitation in the media and other fora, he had championed their cause in the court of law.

Continuing Obono-Obla querried: “What was the contribution of Ita-Giwa to the case filed by Bassey Ita; Effiong Edet Effiong; Samuel Asuquo and Prince Edem Nsa (for themselves and on behalf of all the communities in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State affected by the ‘Green Tree Accord’ between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Cameroun against the Federal Government of Nigeria; Attorney General of the Federation; Attorney General of Cross River State; Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission. and his associates in 2007 in the Federal High Court, Calabar in Suit No. FHC/CA/CS/13/2007; a case which I handled (as counsel to the Plaintiff) pro bono.

“Why did Senator Florence Ita-Giwa fail to use her influence as a Senior Member of the PDP to get the former Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke to support the case?”

He stated that, perhaps, Ita-Giwa was not aware that “the Cross River State Government did everything humanly possible to defeat the plaintiffs in that case.”